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A Dictionary of Archaeology

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explaining societies and cultures that recognizes a functional relationship between different elements within society, or a functional relationship between society as a whole and its wider environment. Functionalist arguments often explain the nature of a particular social phenomenon by reference to the contribution it makes to the continuation of a society of a particular character. Functional descriptions of the internal workings of societies and cultures tend to assume that all significant elements of societies serve describable functions or purposes, and are interdependent – which implies that change in one element or institution leads to change in society as a whole. In this sense, a functionalist paradigm underlies many classic explanations of the growth of complexity in civilizations, such as Wittfogel’s theory of HYDRAULIC DESPOTISM. Functionalist assumptions also underlie the descriptive and explanatory approach known

as SYSTEMS THEORY, as well as much MARXIST

theory and interpretation.

Although functionalist explanations do not really form a systematized body of thought, the functionalist approach to explaining the internal workings of a society can be traced back to the works of Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), a founder of modern sociology. Durkheim developed the concept of a social system composed of functionally related parts

he often used the analogy of the organs of the body

in opposition to contemporary explanations for the existence of social institutions based on the random circumstances of history and cultural environment (essentially, the CULTURE HISTORY approach). Although Durkheim recognized the importance of historical analysis, his work focused on the mechanisms which held society together at any one time. This relative disinterest in the mechanisms of change can also be seen in the work of later ‘functionalist’ anthropologists such as RadcliffeBrown (e.g. Radcliffe-Brown 1922) or Bronislaw Malinowski (e.g. Malinowski 1939). In sociology, functionalist explanation reached a peak in elaboration with the work of Talcott Parsons (1902–79) who developed a school of ‘structuralfunctionalism’. This was based on the idea that systems and subsystems functioned in various ways to achieve four things: adaptation to the physical environment; goal attainment; integration (i.e.

social cohesion and orderliness); and latency (i.e. system stability). However, functionalist explanations were heavily criticized in sociology from the 1960s onwards because they tended to ignore change over time. This has also proved to be a weakness in archaeological applications of systems theory, though mitigated by concepts such as the


‘multiplier effect’ and catastrophe theory.

In archaeology, there has also been a tendency to give primacy to economic or materialist functions. An example might be the argument put forward by Lewis and Sally Binford (1969) that MOUSTERIAN assemblages excavated in southwestern France were different toolkits, used for different functional tasks, rather than being the equipment used by different ethnic groups as Francois Bordes had proposed (Bordes and de Sonneville-Bordes 1970; Mellars 1970).

Trigger (1989, 247) uses the term ‘environmental functionalism’ as a catch-all to describe those accounts of cultures, written from the 19th century on, that give environmental circumstance or change (for example, the distribution of

KERAMIK settlement in relation to LOESS soil) a primary role in the explanation of culture and cultural change. Here the environment is seen as precipitating a functional response in a whole society. While often offering an explanation for social change over time, such explanations tend to be deterministic: that is, they tend to assume that the functionalist response manifest by a society is the only possible response.

A.R. Radcliffe-Brown: The Andaman Islanders (Cambridge 1922); B. Malinowski: ‘The group and the individual in functional analysis’, American Journal of Sociology 44 (1939), 938–64; S.R. and L.R. Binford: ‘A preliminary analysis of functional variability in the Mousterian of Levallois facies’, American Anthropologist 68 (1969), 238–95; F. Bordes and D. de Sonneville-Bordes: ‘The significance of variability in Palaeolithic assemblages’, WA 2 (1970), 61–73; P.A. Mellars: ‘Some comments on the notion of “functional variability” in stone tool assemblages’, WA 2 (1970), 74–89; G.R. Willey and J.A. Sabloff: A history of American archaeology, 2nd edn (San Francisco, 1980), 130–80; R. Dunnell: ‘Five decades of American archaeology’,

American archaeology: past and future, ed. D. Meltzer et al. (Washington D.C., 1986), 23–49; G. Clark: Economic prehistory: papers on archaeology (Cambridge, 1988); B.G. Trigger: A history of archaeological thought (Cambridge, 1989), 244–88.


al-Fustat Site on the edge of Cairo in Egypt, which is one of the most extensively excavated of the great urban sites of the Islamic period. The extent of its ruin fields and the depth of medieval overburden is so vast that relatively little of the site has been exposed. Resources to clear such great areas have always been limited; had they been available, the site may have been revealed as an Islamic Pompeii. A particular problem at al-Fustat, however, is the tendency of builders in all periods to


strike down to bedrock when digging foundations. This has disrupted the traces of the earliest occupation on the site. Based on texts and archaeology, W. Kubiak (1987) has produced a masterly interpretation of the planning and evolution of early al-Fustat. In the early period, fuelled by immigration from Arabia and Syria and the revenue of taxation, al-Fustat sucked technical skills from Alexandria that allowed rapid development of its industries in the fields of glass, ceramic and textile production.

The excavations of George Scanlon (1994) have lent support to the textual evidence suggesting that the city was given a coherent street plan in about AD 700. Scanlon’s work also attests to the complexity of the water and sewage system of the town.

Final publication is still awaited, but Kubiak’s study is a model of what can be achieved with the synthesis of texts and archaeological results.

R. Guest: ‘The foundation of Fustat and the Khittahs of that town’, JRAS (1907), 49–83; J.-C. Garcin: ‘Toponomie et topographie urbaines médiévales au Fustat et au Claire’, JESHO 37 (1984), 113–55; W.B. Kubiak: AlFustat: its foundation and early development (Cairo, 1987); G.T. Scanlon: ‘Al-Fustât: the riddle of the earliest settlement’, The Byzantine and early Islamic Near East II: land use and settlement patterns, ed. G.R.D. King and A. Cameron (Princeton, 1994), 171–9.


Funnel Beaker culture (Funnel Neck Beaker) see TRB


gallery grave One of the two main types of Neolithic chambered tomb (the other being the PASSAGE GRAVE), defined by an elongated chamber or ‘gallery’ that is entered directly – rather than via a passage. In some examples the galleries make a ‘dog’s leg’. The more complex examples have side chambers and an end chamber opening off the main gallery, in which case the main gallery effectively functions as a passage; this can make the distinction between a gallery grave and a passage grave confusing, the essential difference being that in a complex gallery grave the central gallery is nearly always as high and wide as the subsidiary chambers, whereas in a passage grave the passage is of markedly inferior dimensions and the chamber is designed as the focal point of the tomb. As a general rule gallery graves are covered by a sub-rectangular (often wedge-shaped) mound, while passage graves have round tumuli. The SEVERN-COTSWOLD tombs are perhaps the most well-researched group of gallery graves in Britain. Variants of the gallery grave design include the ‘segmented gallery graves’, such as the Clyde group, in which the gallery is subdivided by slabs.


Gamble’s Cave One of two adjacent rockshelters with substantial internal and external Stone Age deposits. The site, overlooking Lake Elmenteita in the Eastern Rift Valley in Kenya, was formed by wave action in the wet period of the early Holocene when the level of Lake Elmenteita rose to combine with Lake Nakuru, forming a vast expanse of water that overflowed into the Nile basin. The archaeological potential of Gamble’s Cave was appreciated in the 1920s by Louis Leakey (1931) who thus undertook one of the first excavations of note in East Africa. The upper deposits contained ‘ELMENTEITAN’ lithics and pottery; below were encountered various stages of a blade tradition which Leakey at first called ‘Kenya Aurignacian’, and later ‘KENYA CAPSIAN’. The lowest levels of the site lie on a beach sand and are now dated to c.7000–5000 BC (much later than Leakey had im-

agined); finds here include a bone harpoon fragment of Nile basin type and a few sherds of pottery also of the Nilotic and Saharan ‘AQUALITHIC’ (or ‘Khartoum horizon’ style) of the early Holocene.

L.S.B. Leakey: The Stone Age cultures of Kenya colony

(Cambridge, 1931), 90–175; J.E.G. Sutton: ‘New radiocarbon dates for eastern and southern Africa’, JAH 13 (1972), 3–4.


game theory Mathematical formalization of the processes of making decisions and formulating strategies (see also DECISION THEORY) which was first developed in the 1940s by the American mathematician John von Neumann (see Neumann and Morgenstern 1964). It has subsequently been applied to many areas of study, such as evolutionary biology, philosophy, psychology and economics. The application of game theory to archaeological data involves the assessment and quantification of the probabilities and values of various outcomes of action which might be chosen in particular cultural and environmental contexts. In the field of human evolution, John Maynard Smith (1988) introduced the concept of an ESS (evolutionarily stable strategy), i.e. a strategy which dominates the human population in question, and therefore has to be able to compete successfully against other similar strategies. As Richard Dawkins (1989: 282) puts it: ‘An ESS is a strategy that does well against copies of itself.’

J. von Neumann and O. Morgenstern: The theory of games and economic behaviour, 3rd edn (New York, 1964); J. Maynard Smith: Games, sex and evolution (London, 1988); R. Dawkins: The selfish gene, 2nd edn (Oxford, 1989).


Gandhara The Gandhara period is a distinctive stylistic phase in South Asian Buddhist art, dating to the 1st–3rd centuries AD. The period is named after its geographic centre, the Gandhara region (comprising the Peshawar Valley in northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan) and corresponds to the period of Central Asian rule known as the Kushana period (late 1st to mid-3rd century AD). The


Gandhara period is also frequently described as the Indo-Greek period of Buddhist sculpture, since clear Greek and Roman influence can be seen in the facial features and draped robes of the numerous stone sculptures of the Buddha that characterize this period.

V.A. Smith: The Oxford History of India, 4th edn (Delhi, 1981), 151, 154–5; S.J. Czuma: Kushan sculpture: images from early India (Cleveland, 1985), 18–25.


Gandhara grave culture Characteristic protohistoric cemetery sites in the region of Swat, Pakistan. According to calibrated radiocarbon dates, these sites range from the late 2nd millennium to the end of the 1st millennium BC. Important cemetery sites include Katelai, Loebanr and Timargarha; little is known of settlement sites from this period, though some small test excavations have been conducted at Balambai and Aligrama.

The Gandharan graves are rectangular pits, sometimes enclosed within stone circles and covered by stone slabs. Most contain primary inhumations of one or two individuals, but there are also remains of cremations and secondary burials. Two horse burials are known from Katelai, and an iron bit was recovered at Timargarha. The graves contain large quantities of undecorated wheel-made pottery, including tall, slender jars and beakers and pedestal vessels; throughout the material culture there are strong parallels with sites in eastern Iran. It has been suggested that the cemeteries may contain remains of peoples from diverse ethnic backgrounds, with the cremation graves most strongly associated with populations who originated to the west of the Swat region. Terracotta female figurines and pins of copper and bronze are commonly found at Gandhara sites, but iron artefacts are rare until after 400 BC.

A.H. Dani et al.: ‘Timargarha and the Gandhara grave culture’, AP 3 (1967), 1–407; C. Silva Antonini and G. Stacul: The proto-historic graveyards of Swat, 2 vols (Rome, 1972); ––––: ‘Inhumation and cremation in Northwest Pakistan at the end of the second millennium BC, South Asian archaeology, ed N. Hammond (Cambridge, 1973). 197–201.


Ganges civilization The second phase of urbanization in South Asia, which emerged in the mid-1st millennium BC, more than a thousand years after the collapse of the INDUS CIVILIZATION; it corresponds with the origins of historic Indian philosophical, religious and historic traditions.

Urban settlements of the Ganges civilization are found over a wide area in the fertile valleys of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. Important sites include


KAUSAMBI, Mathura, Noh, Patilaputra and Ujjain. The importance of the Ganges region has been recognized since the start of the 20th century but substantial archaeological research did not begin until the 1940s and 1950s, with the excavations of Ahicchatra, Hastinapura and Kausambi (only the work at Hastinapura and Kausambi having been fully published). Excavations have in general been small in scale, and little is known of the overall plans of sites. Regional settlement pattern surveys have been conducted in the Kanpur district by Makhan Lal (1984) and around Kausambi by George Erdosy (1985).

A. Ghosh: The city in early historical India (Simla, 1973); M. Lal: Settlement history and rise of civilization in GangaYamuna Doab (Delhi, 1984); R. Thapar: From lineage to state: social formations in the mid-first millennium BC in the Ganga valley (Bombay, 1984); G. Erdosy: ‘Settlement archaeology of the Kausambi region’, Man and Environment 9 (1985), 66–79.


Gangetic hoards About seventy-five copper hoards, most with very poor provenances, are known from a variety of regions in late prehistoric India, including the Ganges Basin, Chota Nagpur and northern Rajasthan, but little is known of their function or the circumstances of their deposition. The Ganges Basin hoards are the best-known, and copper finds there are often associated with

the problematic OCHRE COLOURED POTTERY of the

2nd millennium BC. The copper artefacts include flat and shouldered celts, double-axes, swords, harpoons, lance-heads, bracelets and anthropomorphic figures. The Gangetic hoards probably dated to the 2nd millennium BC, but it is important to note that none of them have been dated and no radiocarbon dates are available. A range of interpretations concerning the producers of these hoards have been raised, including such suggestions as Western Asian influence, Indo-Aryans, displaced Harappans, and local tribal populations (Agrawal 1982: 210). Agrawal, however, has cautioned against accepting any of these views without improved spatial and chronological control.

D.P. Agrawal: The Copper-Bronze Age in India (Delhi, 1971); ––––: The archaeology of India (Copenhagen 1982), 203–10; P. Yule: ‘On the function of the prehistoric copper hoards of the Indian subcontinent’, South Asian archaeology, 1983, ed. J. Schotsmands and M. Taddei (Naples, 1985), 495–508.



Ganweriwala Large unexcavated urban site of the Harappan culture located in the Cholistan region of Pakistan. Identified by M. Rafique Mughal in a regional survey along the ancient course of the Hakra river (1974–7), it is one of 174 sites dating to the Mature Harappan period (see INDUS CIVILIZATION), out of a total of 377 protohistoric sites recorded in the region. The extent of surviving surface remains suggests that the site originally covered an area of about 85.5 ha, roughly comparable with the mounded areas of MOHENJO-


M.R. Mughal: Archaeological explorations in Cholistan

(Islamabad, 1989); ––––: ‘The protohistoric settlement patterns in the Cholistan Desert’, South Asian archaeology, 1987, ed. M. Taddei (Rome, 1990), 143–56.


Gaochengxian see KAO-CH’ENG-HSIEN



Gavrinis Neolithic passage-grave situated on an island in the Morbihan gulf off Brittany, France. Gavrinis, which was constructed towards the end of the 4th millennium BC, is exceptional in the density and quality of the MEGALITHIC art that decorates the orthostats of its passage and chamber. The motifs include concentric arcs, U-shapes, spirals, crook-shapes and repeated axeheads, and on some stones the designs are carefully arranged in panels in a way that is very unusual in Neolithic art.

C.T. Le Roux: Gavrinis et les îles du Morbihan (Paris, 1985)


Gawra, Tepe Tell-site in northern Iraq, northeast of modern Mosul, which flourished particularly during the Ubaid and Uruk periods (c.5000–3100 BC). It is the only site in northern Mesopotamia where pre-Uruk monumental architecture has been excavated. The excavations of E. Speiser and Charles Bache (1927–38), which revealed 20 stratified levels, were originally intended to expose the entire site but the financial support ultimately proved unequal to the task. The earliest known strata at Gawra date to the HALAF period (c.5500–4500 BC), which include pottery suggested by

to have been imported from workshops at TELL ARPACHIYAH (Davidson and McKerrell 1980).

E.A. Speiser: Excavations at Tepe Gawra I (Philadelphia,


1935); A.L. Perkins: The comparative stratigraphy of early Mesopotamia (Chicago, 1949); A.J. Tobler: Excavations at Tepe Gawra II (Philadelphia, 1950); T.E. Davidson and H. McKerrell: ‘The neutron activation analysis of Halaf and ‘Ubaid pottery from Tell Arpachiyah and Tepe Gawra’, Iraq 42 (1980), 155–67; J.-D. Forest: Les pratiques funéraires en Mésopotamie du Vème millenaire au début du IIIème (Paris, 1983).


Gawra period see TEPE GAWRA


Gebel Adda Hilltop fortress in Nubia, 5 km south of Abu Simbel, now submerged by LAKE NASSER. Like QASR IBRIM, Gebel Adda was a major urban centre in Lower Nubia from the late MEROITIC period to medieval times (c.AD 100–1600). The remains include a large BALLANA-period cemetery (c.AD 350–550) and a complex of large brick-built domestic structures identified as the palace of the rulers of Dotawo, a Christian kingdom which is thought to have lasted from about AD 1144 to 1484 (Millet 1967: 61–2). Adams (1984: 535) agrees that Gebel Adda must have been important during the Dotawo phase but dismisses the identification of the palace as pure conjecture.

N. Millet: Preliminary reports in JARCE 3/6 (1964,1967); W.Y. Adams: Nubia: corridor to Africa, 2nd edn (Princeton, 1984), 349–51, 532–5.


Gebel Barkal


Gebel Moya


Gebel Sahaba


Gebel el-Silsila (anc. Khenw, Kheny) Egyptian site consisting of sandstone quarries and rock-cut shrines and stelae located on either side of the Nile some 65 km north of Aswan. The quarries were in use from the 18th dynasty to the Roman period (c.1550 BCAD 395), while the shrines date mainly to the New Kingdom (c.1550–1070 BC). There are also rock-carved drawings and graffiti in the cliffs dating back to the late predynastic period (c.3400–3000).

R.A. Caminos and T.G.H. James: Gebel el Silsilah I (London, 1963).


Gebel Uweinat see JEBEL UWEINAT

250 GEDI

Gedi Best-known of the SWAHILI HARBOUR TOWNS, located near Malindi, a short distance inland from the Kenyan coast. Although it is unexceptional in terms of the history of Swahili harbour towns, it is of paramount importance for the study of East African stone architecture (domestic, mortuary and religious) of the 14th–15th centuries AD, since the ruins of coral-rag buildings are unusually well preserved and readily accessible. The mosques, houses and presumed palace were excavated and cleared by James Kirkman and studied architecturally by Peter Garlake. Chinese ceramics, which were traded indirectly across the Indian Ocean, have been instrumental in dating the site, which was probably still occupied in the 16th century.

J.S. Kirkman: Men and monuments on the East African coast

(London, 1964).


Gelidonya Cape on the coast of southwestern Turkey where a Bronze Age wreck, dating to c.1200 BC and located at a depth of 27 m, was excavated by George Bass in 1960 and again in 1987–8. The cargo comprised at least 34 ‘oxhide’ copper ingots, as well as disc-shaped and oval copper ingots, tin ingots, and broken bronze tools (probably scrap). Other finds included a swage block, whetstones, a jar of glass beads, stone maceheads and polishers, an oil lamp, five scarabs, a cylinder seal, polished stone balance-pan weights and a sword.

In 1982 a similar but more opulent wreck dating to c.1325 BC was reported at a depth of 44–51 m at Ulu Burun, where excavations have been conducted since 1984 by Bass and Cemal Pulak from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A & M University. The estimated 12 tonnes of cargo include 250+ ingots, mainly copper oxhide (but also disk and bun), and several tin; 100 ‘Canaanite’ amphorae (many containing turpentine); seven pithoi (one containing Cypriot pottery); 100 kg of cobalt-blue glass ingots, the earliest known; murex shells; ostrich egg-shells; ebony logs; and ivory (elephant tusk and hippopotamus teeth). The extensive catalogue of small finds includes musical instruments (five tortoise-shell sound-boxes), the earliest known diptych (wooden writing tablet), a gold cup, jewellery, rock-cut seals (one a gold scarab of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti), fishing equipment, tools, and a câche of weapons. The ship was equipped with at least 24 stone anchors and was constructed by pegged mortise-and-tenon, the technique preferred by later Greco-Roman shipwrights in which the shell rather than the frames

provided the hull’s integral strength (see MARITIME


These wrecks have fuelled debate over whether late Bronze Age maritime transport in the Eastern Mediterranean was primarily in the hands of Mycenaean Greeks, Egyptians, or Cannanites (Syro-Palestinians), the last being favoured by Bass. What seems clear is the role of Cyprus, both in trans-shipment and for its own produce, since


Cypriot origin for the copper. The wider issue of the mechanism of transport also remains unresolved, although the presence of mercantile equipment and some relatively humble goods suggests some commerce. The possibility that the Ulu Burun ship contained a ‘royal’ consignment accords with a primitivist model of the Bronze Age economy in which socially-embedded mechanisms such as reciprocity and redistribution are paramount; Anthony Snodgrass, for instance, has stressed the evidence for Mycenaean bronze-work- ing being under close centralized control, and has shown that the Ulu Burun ingots would have provided enough bronze to equip the army of an average Mycenaean kingdom (Snodgrass 1991: 15–20).

Underwater archaeological techniques. The excavation of the Gelidonya wreck in 1960 was the first compelling demonstration of archaeology underwater. Bass showed both that archaeologists could dive and that an adequately funded, equipped and staffed expedition could survey and excavate to the same standards as land archaeology. Tools pioneered at that and subsequent excavations include the ‘vacuum airlift’, for clearing spoil, and the underwater communications booth. Equally important was the discovery that standard techniques of measuring and recording on land required only slight modification, including baseline triangulation, PLANE-TABLE LEVELLING and notetaking. More recent technical developments have included computer-linked acoustic and electronic devices for site survey. Bass has also set the standard for wreck publication (e.g. Bass 1967; Bass and Van Doorninck 1982).

G.F. Bass: Cape Gelidonya: a Bronze Age shipwreck

(Philadelphia, 1967); G.F. Bass and F.H. Van Doorninck, Jr.: Yassi Ada 1: a seventh century Byzantine shipwreck

(College Station, 1982); C. Pulak: ‘The Bronze Age shipwreck at Ulu Burun, Turkey: 1985 campaign’, AJA 92 (1988), 1–37; G.F. Bass, C. Pulak, D. Collon and J. Weinstein: ‘The Bronze Age shipwreck at Ulu Burun: 1986 campaign’, AJA 93 (1989), 1–29; G.F. Bass: ‘Evidence of trade from Bronze Age shipwrecks’, Bronze Age trade in the Mediterranean, ed. N.H. Gale (Jonsered, 1991), 69–82; A. Snodgrass: ‘Bronze Age exchange: a

minimalist position’, Bronze Age trade in the Mediterranean, ed. N.H. Gale (Jonsered, 1991); 15–20.


gender archaeology A term encompassing varied approaches to the archaeological study of gender in past societies. Gender is defined as a socially and culturally constructed category of difference between men and women, as distinct from the fixed categories of biological sex. Gender archaeology emerged during the 1980s in American, British and Scandinavian archaeology, in response to feminist critiques which declared mainstream archaeology to be male-biased in its chosen topics and methods of analysis (see


Gender is considered to be a major structuring principle of all societies. It classifies male and female roles, informs attitudes and relations between the sexes and constructs social identity through an imagery of gender. While not synonymous with biological sex, gender can be viewed as the social construction of values invested in the sexual differences between men and women. The proponents of gender archaeology view gender as a social relationship subject to constant negotiation and change, and therefore specific to each time and place. This social (as opposed to biological) definition of gender is used to challenge previous interpretations which accepted present-day gender stereotypes as timeless, objective and ‘natural’.

At first the concept of gender was found to be difficult to test archaeologically. In contrast to biological sex, which is easily approached through skeletal evidence, the social definition of gender seemed to offer no empirical evidence. The earliest studies sought to identify material correlates indicative of the presence of men and women in excavated material. Such correlates might take the form of particular artefacts, tools or grave goods, which when recovered through excavation would suggest the activities of men or women. This approach is still prevalent in many studies which seek to identify from ethnographic and ethnohistoric sources artefacts representative of women’s activities. Once such correlates have been established, archaeological evidence is scrutinised for the presence of women (e.g. McEwan 1991). While important for redressing the imbalance of earlier male-dominated narratives, such studies may be more correctly termed the archaeology of women.

In contrast to approaches which seek to identify women, gender archaeology takes as its starting point the relationship between men and women and the changing definitions of masculinity and


femininity. Material correlates for gender are problematic in a number of ways. Often their identification requires an exclusive sexual division of labour, when in most cases a degree of task-sharing can be expected. In addition, the approach adopts a static and descriptive definition of gender. To date, empirical studies of gender archaeology remain somewhat controversial. Disagreement exists over the forms of analogy on which to base archaeological interpretations, in particular whether ethnographic or ethnohistoric sources should be used, and whether a methodology exists which will unlock gender in archaeological assemblages.

Gender archaeology developed initially from within the American tradition of PROCESSUAL ARCHAEOLOGY (Conkey and Spector 1984), and shared with it a primary concern with methodological issues. The first studies sought to make gender visible in the archaeological record by identifying men’s and women’s work and their attendant activity areas. In the ‘task differentiation’ methodology proposed by Janet Spector, links are sought between the social definitions of gender and its material aspects. Spector began with ethnographically well-documented examples in which men’s and women’s tasks could be examined according to the social composition of task groups, the frequency, duration and season of task performance, the environment and community (or site) location of various tasks, and the artefacts, structures and facilities associated with tasks. From this she suggested that it would be possible to extrapolate to undocumented groups. However, in applying this methodology to archaeological assemblages associated with the Wahpeton people of East Dakota, Spector concluded that the method provided only a means for organising data. She suggested that the full interpretation of this data could be fulfilled by moving to a more narrative way of writing about native Americans (Spector 1991). Gender archaeologists have come to agree that gendered interpretations cannot be delivered according to a particular methodology, but rather as the result of asking new questions of archaeological data.

While American gender archaeology first concentrated on the relationship of gender to the organisation of production, European approaches were influenced by a long-standing tradition which studied gender as a descriptive category of material culture linked to biological sex, explored particularly in relation to Anglo-Saxon grave goods (e.g. Pader 1982).

Approaches influenced by STRUCTURALIST ARCHAEOLOGY gave greater emphasis to the


symbolic dimensions of gender, characterizing it as a system of signification composed of series of binary oppositions expressed through material culture. Artefacts and forms of decoration were viewed as being organized according to opposites such as decorated: undecorated, raw: cooked, male: female, and so on. Some of these studies considered forms of material culture as a means of mediating tensions between men and women, so that objects ordered according to binary oppositions could maintain gender relations or facilitate strategies for their change (Braithwaite 1982; Sorensen 1987). Although such binary oppositions were generally viewed as having been socially constructed, they nevertheless implied a universal contradiction between male and female cultural categories. Such universals are contradictory to the social definition of gender, in which gender relations and imagery are culturally specific and constantly changing. Moreover the concept of binary oppositions insists that gender is always dualistic, constructed of male and female categories. More recently gender archaeologists have suggested that alternative structures may be anticipated in the gender relations of past societies, in which three, four or any number of genders may have existed (Gilchrist 1991) e.g.


Gender studies influenced by CONTEXTUAL ARCHAEOLOGY sought to explore the potential meanings of gender derived from archaeological context. For example, representations of women depicted in a range of data types from Bronze Age Denmark were explored in order to comment on long-term changes in gender relations (Gibbs 1987) and archaeological deposits have been used to suggest gender domains within settlements in Iron Age Noord-Holland (Therkorn 1987).

More recently, gender archaeology has been approached through the adoption of gender as an analytical category in organizing archaeological data and enquiries (Gero and Conkey 1991; Seifert 1991). Much of this work highlights the role of women, but does so within a critical framework which seeks to evaluate female agency in major cultural transformations, such as state formation and the development of forms of agriculture and new technologies. Gender is employed as the basis of a conceptual framework which challenges existing interpretations and reclaims women as subjects active in the formation of the archaeological record. The primary concern is no longer the need to find empirical methods of testing for gender in archaeological data. Indeed, American gender archaeology now challenges the positivist tradition in which it was initially based, arguing that gendered interpret-

ations can be achieved from a strongly developed theoretical position that focuses on gender as agency (Gero and Conkey 1991). Gender archaeology has developed into a new phase in which its proponents demonstrate the invalidity of traditional methodologies and interpretations and provide alternatives. For example, in her study of 19th-century American ceramic assemblages, Anne Yentsch has moved away from previous methods of artefact pattern analysis, which enumerate artefacts primarily according to a description of their materials (see SPATIAL ANALYSIS), to a gendered approach which considers the functions of vessels and the activities of men and women which they represent (Yentsch 1991).

This more mature gender archaeology considers the cultural formulation of constructs such as the household, family and gender domains, considering for example the role of differential male and female mobility in constructing domesticity and household in the 19th-century American West (Purser 1991). The active nature of gender and material culture is explored through case-studies of changing male and female space (for example in medieval monasticism, Gilchrist 1993) and women’s choices in consumer goods in maintaining gender roles and social values in 19th-century New York (Wall 1991). Many studies now emphasize the fluid nature of gender and examine the mechanisms through which change is enacted. In American gender archaeology a great deal of emphasis has been placed on transitions brought about through European colonialism and colonization of North and South America.

No single approach or method dominates gender archaeology, but its proponents are united in defining gender as a socially created and historically specific force. The majority link its practice with the resolution of feminist aims to reinterpret the past through the reclamation of women as subjects. Problems remain surrounding the use of ethnographic and ethnohistorical analogies and in resolving the gulf between gender theory and archaeological data. Few fully developed case studies have been published, and the majority of successful examples rely heavily on documentary and ethnographic evidence as a starting point for analysis.

Case study: gender archaeology and the domestication of plants in the Eastern Woodlands of North America. Watson and Kennedy (1991) explore the assumptions of gender implicit in explanations of the domestication of plants, proposing a more active role for women in this process. Before the feminist critique, characterisations of the sexual division of


labour suggested men to be strong, dominant hunters and women to be weaker, more passive beings hampered by their reproductive responsibilities and therefore confined to plant gathering. This study combines archaeological and ethnohistoric data to review explanations for the origins and early development of plant cultivation and domestication in the Eastern WOODLAND of North America, 7000–2000 years before present. Three phases have been suggested to date: 7000 BP gourdlike cucurbits and bottle gourds appear in archaeological deposits in Eastern USA; 3500 BP domesticated forms of native cultigens, the weedy plants sump weed, chenopod and sunflower, begin to appear; 2000–1000 BP maize varieties begin to be developed.

Explanations for the domestication of native cultigens are often ‘co-evolutionary’, that is plants are thought to have gradually domesticated themselves alongside human habitations (Smith 1987). On the basis of ethnographically documented associations between women and horticulture, Watson and Kennedy propose that plants were domesticated by intentional soil disturbance and repeated introduction of seeds by women. They suggest that this process would have accompanied everyday activities: the construction of houses, windbreaks, storage and refuse pits, drying racks, earth ovens and hearths. From ethnographic and ethnohistoric accounts, they are confident that such activities can be associated primarily with women. Nevertheless, they conclude that where the role of women in such co-evolutionary schemes is recognized it is still accorded a passive status.

In contrast, the introduction of the cucurbita gourd and bottle gourd is considered to have been a deliberate introduction through trade with tropical areas (Prentice 1986). It is assumed that an intentional act of domestication, or any major innovation, can only take place when introduced by a person of high status, such as a specialist or SHAMAN. In this interpretation, gourd domestication was linked to trade and ceremony and was therefore a male innovation. When viewed as a high status act of innovation, Watson and Kennedy note that typically androcentric interpretations no longer consider plant domestication to be connected with women.

In relation to maize agriculture, they suggest that it was purposefully cultivated in hospitable climates, such as that around Lake Erie, in the southern Great Lakes, from AD 800–900. They infer from this deliberate acclimatisation of a new species that the women gardeners of the native cultigens in Middle and Late Woodland communi-


ties must have been responsible for the successful introduction of maize agriculture.

They conclude that some, if not all, of the species would have required special, self-conscious, and deliberate treatment to convert them to garden crops, and, on the basis of ethnographic comparisons, suggest that plant domestication was carried out by Late Archaic women acting intentionally and drawing from an accumulated body of knowledge. Watson and Kennedy acknowledge that we may never know exactly who domesticated plants in the Eastern Woodlands, and that their preferred explanation relies only on ethnographic evidence. However, in contrast with previous androcentric approaches, assumptions on the sexual division of labour are made explicit in their interpretation and the sources of analogy on which they base their conclusions are made clear. Despite its ethnographic basis, their explanation of plant domestication is no less valid or testable than other interpretations. It challenges existing perceptions in that it attributes a major cultural transformation to deliberate female agency, and raises the status of women in hunter-gatherer societies from passive to active.

See also

M. Braithwaite: ‘Decoration as ritual symbol: a theoretical proposal and an ethnographic study in Southern Sudan’, Symbolic and structural archaeology, ed. I. Hodder (Cambridge, 1982), 80–8; E.J. Pader: Symbolism, social relations and the interpretation of mortuary remains (Oxford, 1982); M.W. Conkey and J.D. Spector: ‘Archaeology and the study of gender’, Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 7 (1984), 1–38; G. Prentice: ‘Origins of plant domestication in the Eastern United States: promoting the individual in archaeological theory’, Southeastern Archaeology 5 (1986), 103–19; L. Gibbs: ‘Identifying gender representations in the archaeological record: a contextual study’, The archaeology of contextual meanings, ed. I. Hodder (Cambridge, 1987), 79–87; B.D. Smith: ‘The independent domestication of the indigenous seedbearing plants in Eastern North America’, Emergent horticultural economies of the Eastern Woodlands, ed. W. Keegan (Carbondale, 1987), 3–47; M.L.S. Sorensen: ‘Material order and cultural classification: the role of bronze objects in the transition from Bronze Age to Iron Age Scandinavia’, The archaeology of contextual meanings, ed. I. Hodder (Cambridge, 1987), 90–101; L. Therkorn: ‘The interrelationships of materials and meanings: some suggestions on housing concerns within Iron Age NoordHolland’, The archaeology of contextual meanings, ed. I. Hodder (Cambridge, 1987), 102–10; ‘Women and archaeology’, ARC 7.1 (1988) [whole issue]; J.M. Gero and M.W. Conkey, eds: Engendering archaeology: women in prehistory (Oxford, 1991); R. Gilchrist: ‘Women’s archaeology? Political feminism, gender theory and historical revision’, Antiquity 65 (1991), 495–501; B.G. McEwan: ‘The archaeology of women in the Spanish New


World’, HA 25/4 (1991), 33–41; M. Purser: ‘“Several Paradise Ladies are visiting in town”: gender strategies in the Early Industrial West’, HA 25/4 (1991), 6–16; D.J. Seifert, ed.: ‘Gender in historical archaeology’, HA 25/4 (1991) [whole issue]; J.D. Spector: ‘What this awl means: towards a feminist archaeology?’, Engendering archaeology: women in prehistory, ed. J.M. Gero and M.W. Conkey (Oxford, 1991), 388–406; D.D. Wall: ‘Sacred dinners and secular teas: constructing domesticity in mid-19th century New York’, HA 25/4 (1991), 69–81; P.J. Watson and M.C. Kennedy: ‘The development of horticulture in the Eastern Woodlands of North America: women’s role’, Engendering archaeology: women in prehistory, ed. J.M. Gero and M.W. Conkey (Oxford, 1991), 255–75; A. Yentsch: ‘Engendering visible and invisible ceramic artifacts, especially diary vessels’, HA 25/4 (1991), 132–55; R. Gilchrist: Gender and medieval monasticism: the archaeology of religious women (London, 1993); R.P. Wright, ed.: Gender and archaeology (Philadelphia, 1996); S.M. Nelson: Gender in archaeology (Walnut Creek, 1997).


general laws see COVERING LAWS

General Periods A–D see ASIA 3

geofacts Term used to describe objects, particularly lithics, that have been created by natural geological processes rather than human activity (see, for instance, CALICO HILLS).

Geographical Information Systems see


Geoksyur Agricultural oasis in the Tedjen delta, Southern Turkmenistan, containing a number of early Neolithic and Bronze Age sites excavated in the 1950s and 1960s. The initial settlement occurred during the NAMAZGA I stage, in the 6th to 5th millennium BC, and seems to have been the result of influx from the overpopulated foothills of the Kopet Dag and the deltaic plains (ie the Namazga region).

The settlements of this period (e.g. Dashlijidepe) consisted of rectangular houses; larger rectangular buildings, thought to belong to the social elite, offer some evidence for social stratification. The irrigation system developed in this period consisted of several canals drawing water from the main branch of the delta. The number of sites considerably increased during the subsequent Yalangach and Mullali periods (which correspond to Namazga II), the largest settlement, Geoksyur I reaching 25 ha. The settlement of Yalangach-depe, which contained a central structure built upon a platform, was surrounded by a wall.

The following Geoksyur period, which parallels Namazga III, is represented by at least two settlements: Geoksyur I with a settled area of 10–12 ha, and the much smaller Chong-depe in the north. A canal 5 km long was constructed north of the site of Geoksyur I, a considerable feat of irrigation. The first half of the 3rd millennium BC saw a collapse of agricultural settlement in the Geoksyur oasis. The only site attributed to this period, Khapuz, was located south of the delta.

I.N. Khlopin: Geoksjurskaja gruppa poselenii epohi eneolita

(Leningrad, 1964).


Geometric and Protogeometric Terms used to describe phases in the pottery, and by extension cultural, sequence of ancient Greece in the early 1st millennium BC. The phases are defined largely with reference to artefacts recovered from burials in the region of Athens. The Protogeometric (c.1050–900 BC) developed from the ‘SubMycenaean’ style – itself a very simple geometric style – that prevailed in the centuries immediately following the collapse of the MYCENAEAN civilization. Protogeometric pottery is characterised by wheel-made fine wares decorated with carefully executed but quite plain geometric designs. In the Geometric (c.900–750 BC) phase, these designs grew more elaborate and cross-hatching and other more detailed decoration was adopted; towards the end of this period stylized animals started to be used in bands of decoration on exceptional vessels. The Late Geometric (c.750–700 BC) describes the final period of the Geometric during which a fine series of vessels – especially large funerary urns – began to be produced with much more complicated scenes including narrative art. The style is still geometrized and schematic, often with bodies represented by triangles, but this art is the predecessor of the figurative art of archaic classical Greece.

A.M. Snodgrass: The Dark Age of Greece (Edinburgh, 1971); N. Coldstream: Geometric Greece (London, 1977); A.M. Snodgrass: Archaic Greece: the age of experiment

(London, 1980).


geometric pottery (China) Type of pottery of the late Neolithic and Bronze Age in China, bearing paddle-impressed decoration including geometric designs such as circles, parallel lines, wavy lines, cross-hatches, spirals, chevrons. This decorative form developed from the Late Neolithic onwards and reached a peak of production during the Shang and Chou periods, persisting into Han and later. It is found largely at sites in the lower